Survivors of the Uttar Pradesh road accident, which killed 24 migrants and injured several others today, are having a hard time in recounting the sudden collision between two trucks in Auraiya district, the police said.
"I was sleeping and don't know what happened," said Vandana, a survivor of the accident.
Two trucks collided in Auraiya district at around 3 am, killing 24 migrant workers and injuring at least 38. Among those injured, 15 are critical. Separate groups of labourers - stranded due to the coronavirus lockdown - had hitched rides on these trucks coming from Rajasthan and Delhi to return to their homes.
Rescue workers and locals were seen toiling to remove the sacks of lime powder using JCB machines after the accident and pull out the people buried underneath.
Ms Vandana was among the 22 occupants of the truck which had stopped at the eatery as they wanted to have tea.
She said she woke up "with a jerk and fell down from the truck."
The officials said the occupants included five women and seven children.
The trailer was carrying sacks of lime powder on which around 40 workers were sleeping when it crashed into the stationary truck, officials said.
The highway has agriculture fields on both sides. Hearing the impact of the collision, villagers rushed to the site and helped the police and district administration officials in the rescue work.
"Five of those brought here are in a very serious condition and one of them has been put on ventilator. Two of them have head injury," Vice-Chancellor of Saifai Medical University Dr Raj Kumar said.
Among those admitted are a couple and their three children, he said.
"Since the victims were coming from Delhi, all have been kept in a separate wing of the COVID hospital and the doctors in-charge there are monitoring them," he said.
Circle Officer of Auraiya Surendranath Yadav said it was not clear if the drivers had survived.
"We spoke to some of the survivors of the accident. They are unable to recall how the accident took place. At this point of time, it is not clear whether the drivers of both the trucks are among the deceased or not," he said.
While many of the workers were from Jharkhand and West Bengal, some were from Kushinagar in eastern Uttar Pradesh, they said.
The truck was going from Delhi to Madhya Pradesh, while the trailer was coming from Rajasthan.
The state police said they are taking steps to ensure that such accidents don't happen again.
Two police officers have been suspended over the incident and both the trucks have been seized. The UP Police has also filed cases against the truck drivers. A compensation of Rs 2 lakh has been announced by the state for the families of those who died and Rs 50,000 for those injured.